Australia Declares Formation of El Niño

    Australia Declares Formation of El Niño
    Last updated Sep 19, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


    • On Tuesday, Australia’s leading meteorological organization declared that the El Niño weather pattern has developed over the Pacific Ocean and will bring dry conditions conducive to heatwaves and wildfires to the already hot eastern region of the country.
    • The Bureau of Meteorology’s announcement follows a similar announcement made in June by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and in July by the World Meteorological Organization.
    • An El Niño occurs when the waters near the equator in the Pacific Ocean become warmer than average, altering the atmospheric circulation and, subsequently, the global climate.
    • The shift to an El Niño signals the end of the La Niña weather pattern, which had been in place for the last three years. La Niña is marked by higher-than-average rainfall, a characteristic that greatly supports Australia’s agricultural community by improving soil quality and reducing wildfire risk, thus increasing crop yields.
    • On Tuesday, temperatures in Sydney soared to 93.9°F, nearly breaking the record of 94.3°F set in 1965. The dry and windy conditions have contributed to 61 wildfires burning across the Australian state of New South Wales, with 13 uncontained.
    • With the new weather pattern, Australia faces an above-average wildfire season, reminiscent of the Black Summer from 2019, in which nearly 500 people lost their lives as millions of acres burned.


    Narrative A

    The announcement of an El Niño weather pattern is never welcomed. While the weather pattern varies in severity with each arrival, they more often than not spell disaster and ramp up global instability. The incoming El Niño is expected to be particularly bad and will likely result in the reduction of crop yields, putting both humans and livestock at risk of starvation.

    Narrative B

    As the El Niño weather pattern shifts into place, there will be winners and losers. Some areas of the globe can withstand — and even thrive —in the warm and dry conditions, while others cannot. However, before we panic and rush to prepare, let's be reminded that not all scientists agree that an El Niño will occur or that the severity will be astronomical. Current forecasts could be wildly inaccurate.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 90% chance that there will be at least 2˚C of global warming by 2100, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Sign up to our newsletter!